Holste is Watauga's Teacher of the Year
Gina Holste, a third-grade teacher at Valle Crucis School, was named Watauga County Teacher of the Year on Friday in a surprise ceremony in her classroom.
Holste is now in her seventh year teaching in Watauga County Schools and worked at Bethel before joining the Valle Crucis staff. She graduated from Appalachian State University in 2005 and earned her master's degree in reading education in 2009.
In 2010, Holste earned recognition as a National Board Certified teacher, one of the most distinguished recognitions within the profession.
Her lessons were interrupted Friday morning by a group of well-wishers that included Assistant Superintendent David Fonseca, Principal Martha Clark, Board of Education members, central office staff and her family.
Holste teared up as she greeted her husband, Ronnie Holste, her daughter, 18-month old Ava, and her parents, Robyn and Tim Bruff of Lexington.
"This is such an honor, and I am so excited to move forward and be an ambassador for our county," Holste said.
Holste is now in the running to become regional Teacher of the Year and could go on to compete for the North Carolina Teacher of the Year title. Each school Teacher of the Year received a $350 check from the school system, a basket of gifts donated by local businesses and a framed certificate recognizing their selection. As Watauga County Schools Teacher of the Year, Holste will receive an additional $350.
School board member Ron Henries thanked Holste on behalf of the school system for her dedication.
"We are privileged to be here today," Henries said. "Thank you so much for what you do. It's apparent when we see the smiles on these kids' faces the work you put in."
This is the second consecutive year that a Valle Crucis staff member has been named Watauga County Teacher of the Year. Last year's winner, Katie Matthews, visited Holste's classroom Friday to pass the torch, placing a paper crown on Holste's head.
"I'm so proud of her!" Matthews said.
Holste's mother, who worked as a teacher assistant, said her daughter showed interest in teaching early on in life, even without her nudging. As a high school senior, Holste interned in her mom's classroom.
"I let her do what she wanted to do," Bruff said. "She chose the field."
Holste first worked for Watauga County Schools in the afterschool program while still a student at ASU.
She persevered in teaching during challenging times. She spent her first two and a half years in interim teaching assignments and had to reapply for a new position as each assignment ended, according to the school system. She also completed two stints handling classrooms with two grade levels.
In addition to Holste, the 2013-14 Teachers of the Year include Lindsey Wilson of Bethel, Susan Trew of Blowing Rock, Tiffany Reece of Cove Creek, Donna Greene of Green Valley, Jenny McCourry of Hardin Park, Meghan Mixon of Mabel, Jamie Dale of Parkway and Klay Anderson of Watauga High School.
The selection process includes interviews with candidates, a review of their written statements of teaching philosophy and unannounced classroom observations. The selection committee includes teachers, school administrators and school board member Barbara Kinsey.
Clark announced the award to the entire school on the PA system as Holste's students and supporters cheered.
"Does this mean recess for the rest of the day?" one student asked after the presentation.
"Not exactly, no," Holste said.